Flash for Android no more, or is it?

Slashdot reports:

Adobe has finally seen the same light Steve Jobs did in 2010 and is now committed to putting mobile Flash player in the history books as soon as possible. Adobe will not develop and test Flash player for Android 4.1 and will now focus on a PC browsing and apps.

But we’ve heard quite a few announcements from Adobe and Google in regards to Flash in the last few month.  I don’t know about you, but I am practically lost in the controversy.  Between Adobe releasing the last version of Flash for Linux, Adobe releasing a sandbox version of Flash for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, and Google releasing Google Chrome for Android, I have no clue anymore.

The best I can make of it is that Adobe doesn’t want to support mobile or Linux anymore.  But Google takes over with its own Flash support integrated into the Google Chrome browser, which Google supports on all desktop platforms, as well as on iOS and Android devices.  So even without the Adobe we should still be able to access Flash games, porn, and navigation menus.

What do you think?  Are we about to lose Flash, and if we are, what’s the alternative?

P.S.: As much as I love the idea of HTML5, I don’t think it’s just there yet.

SlideShare moves from Flash to HTML5

SlideShare is a social network where people share presentations and other documents.  If you ever attended any conferences, talks or group meetings, chances are the slides for that were uploaded and made available on the SlideShare.  Until now, though, using those slides was a bit awkward, since they were always converted to Flash.  Your browser had to have a plugin, it was difficult or impossible to copy-paste text from slides, search was weird, and access from the mobile was very limited.  Gladly, SlideShare announced that they are moving from Flash to HTML5 which by itself should fix all those nuances and provide for some more useful features.

Here are their reasons for switching:

  1. The exact same HTML5 documents work on the iPhone / iPad, Android phones/tablets, and modern desktop browsers. This is great from an operations perspective. This saves us from extra storage costs, and maximizes the cache hit ration on our CDN (since a desktop request fills the cache for a mobile request, and vice-versa). It’s also great from a software engineering perspective, because we can put all our energy into supporting one format and making it really great.
  2. Documents load 30% faster and are 40% smaller. ‘Nuff said on that front, faster is ALWAYS better.
  3. The documents are semantic and accessible. Google can parse it and index the documents, and so can any other bot, scraper, spider, or screen-reader. This means that you can write code that does interesting things with the text on the slideshare pages. You can even copy and paste text from a SlideShare document, something that was always a pain with Flash.

Read the full story to learn about some of the difficulties they experienced during this migration.

Kingdom Rush

A couple of days ago I mentioned Kingdom Rush – an even more addictive version of the Desktop Tower Defense game.  Since someone sent me the link I’ve been nothing but a shadow, ignoring my family and wasting shameless amounts of time in the office.  Finally, I’m glad to report that I’ve finished the game and it’s now completely removed from my uncontrollable “to do” list.

If you missed my original mention of the game, or decided that you won’t figure it out because you never played Desktop Tower Defense, or were afraid that it would be too complicated for you to install – you have nothing to worry about.  The game is very simple (note the difference from easy).  You don’t need any prior experience in other games – instructions are sufficient and easy to follow.  And the game is done in Flash, which means it will run in pretty much any modern browser.  Except for the iPad probably.  Give it a try.  And then you can tell me where two days of your life went.

On the future of Adobe Flash

There is a lot of rumble going around the Web now on the future of Adobe Flash.  Some say that Flash is here to stay.  Others believe that when HTML5 will be a norm, Flash will die out.  Others believe in some other technology or in the mix or in none of the above.  But everyone has something to say.

I just read a lengthy Slashdot discussion of this post by John Dowdell, who is working for Adobe in San Francisco, and who is not worried about Flash future.

There’s really no “HTML vs Flash” war. There are sure people inciting to create such a war, and individual developers may have strong practical reasons to choose one technology over another, but at corporate levels that drive strategy, all delivery channels are important Adobe territory, whether SWF or HTML or video or documents or paper or ebook or e-mag or film or packaging or whatever. Adobe profits by making it easier for creatives to reach their audiences.

On the other hand, a few month ago, back in Karlsruhe, Germany,  I was in the audience for the keynote speech by Patrick Lauke of Opera fame.  During that speech he presented a few developments – HTML5 and CSS3 among others – that clearly showed that there is a strong alternative coming for at least some of Flash’s functionality.  How soon?  The time will tell.

And yet there was yet another important announcement on the subject today.  Google Chrome releases blog mentioned a new version of the browser, released today, with integrated Adobe Flash plugin.  There was a link for more detailed explanations of such a change to Chromium blog.  It looks like there is something bigger going on:

[…] we are working with Adobe, Mozilla and the broader community to help define the next generation browser plug-in API. This new API aims to address the shortcomings of the current browser plug-in model.

I think that whatever the upcoming alternatives are, Adobe Flash is here to stay.  It won’t necessarily stay as we know it now. After all we now know a better Flash than we knew initially (read some Adobe Flash history).  But it surely is not going anywhere any time soon.

And if you need examples of stale technologies on the web, think Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.  It’s over 10 years old. Everybody hates.  Even Microsoft is advising everyone to upgrade.  Better technology exists for years now.  And yet we still have MSIE6 hanging around and no apparent way of getting rid of it.  And Adobe Flash, with all its limitations and shortcomings, is way better than MSIE6.